In the last 2 years the internet has seen the emergence of a popular type of internet video known as a Let’s Plays. Let’s Plays are essentially videos of people playing video games while providing commentary and analysis of the game. They can be funny and informative while being critical of games and their flaws. While many people have found a way to make a stable living off of producing and uploading these videos there are those who feel that they should receive a share of the profits. One of those groups is Nintendo who, in the last few months, did start a “revenue ban” on let’s play videos of their new releases.
According to Claire Lara from gamnesia.com they have since backed off the policy, but for a good month or so they enforced these revenue bans on video uploaders by not taking down the video’s themselves. Instead they but the ban on the videos and collected the ad revenue themselves. The say that this is all in an effort to protect their Intellectual Property. This brings up some interesting arguments about how Let’s Plays should be handled by the major game developers and publishers.
For starters it is their intellectual property that is being used to make these videos which they don’t get any money from. If someone were to write a novelization of a movie they would have to get the rights for it from the movie studio. If someone wanted to use music as a soundtrack for a television show they would have to get the rights from either the band or the record label who holds the copyright for that piece of music. Game developers don’t get that kind of revenue from let’s play producers. They watch as people essentially use their games for free to make money which Nintendo and others will never see. But then that brings up another set of issues from the Let’s Play producers side of things.
For some Let’s Play producers YouTube videos are how they make their living. They produce YouTube content on a full-time basis and earn ad revenue from the videos based on the people who watch them. If Nintendo wants to put revenue bans on Let’s Play videos it means that the company is disrupting the livelihoods of the producers that make these videos. There’s also a very legal grey area involved called fair use copyright. If the video in question is meant to be a parody, a review, or informative than the video producer can use the content without having to compensate the copyright holders.
There are no easy answers to the issues involve. While Nintendo has a right to protect its intellectual property the way they are going about it is very harmful to those people who depend on these videos for their livelihoods. The amount of backlash Nintendo has received for this policy has caused them to back off for now. But that doesn’t mean that this will be the end of it.
Clifford T. Hofferd is a University Graduate living in Prince George and is looking to jumpstart his career.